ABA Therapy: A Treatment Option for ADHD

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ABA therapy is a treatment option for ADHD that is gaining popularity. However, it’s important to know that not all ABA therapists are created equal. Here are some things to look for when choosing an ABA therapist for your child.

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Angela Oswalt, MSW, Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D, and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 3% to 5% of school-aged children. ( CDC, 2010). It begins in childhood but may persist into adulthood. Boys are diagnosed with ADHD more frequently that girls (NIMH, 2008).

There are three types of ADHD: predominantly inattentive type (sometimes called attention-deficit disorder or ADD), predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type, and combined type (inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms present in equal measure). People with the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD may have difficulty sustaining attention; they may be easily distractible and have trouble following through on tasks or completing projects. Those with the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type may be excessively fidgety, talk excessively, and act impulsively without thinking through the consequences of their actions. People with the combined type experience both types of symptoms to a significant degree.

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy is a type of treatment that uses Applied Behavior Analysis in order to change behavior. ABA therapy is based on the science of learning and behavior, and it has been found to be an effective treatment for ADHD. ABA therapy is usually provided by a trained therapist, and it often takes place in a clinic or school setting.

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on teaching new skills and changing problematic behavior. The therapist works with the child to identify specific goals, and then creates a plan to help the child reach those goals. ABA therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for children with ADHD, as well as children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders.

How is ABA Used to Treat ADHD?

ABA therapy is usually provided in a one-on-one setting, though it can also be delivered in a small group setting. The therapist works with the child to identify specific goals, and then designs activities and exercises to help the child achieve those goals.

ABA therapy is usually delivered in short sessions, several times a week. The length of each session depends on the child’s age and attention span. ABA therapy generally focuses on three areas:

1) improving academic performance;
2) reducing disruptive behaviors; and
3) increasing positive social interactions.

The Evidence for ABA Therapy

ABA therapy is a treatment option for ADHD that is backed by research. ABA therapy has been found to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms, improving academic and social functioning, and increasing quality of life for those with ADHD.

ABA for ADHD in Children

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders diagnosed in children. It’s also one of the most controversial. One of the main points of contention is the best way to treat it.

There are two major approaches to treating ADHD: medication and behavioral therapy. Medication is the most common treatment, but some parents prefer behavioral therapy, especially if their child is younger.

Behavioral therapy, also known as behavior modification or behavior management, is a process where desired behavior is reinforced and undesired behavior is punished or not reinforced. The goal is to change bad habits and develop good ones.

One type of behavioral therapy that has shown promise in treating ADHD is called applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA uses a system of rewards and punishments to teach children new behaviors and help them stop old ones.

There is a lot of debate about whether ABA is an effective treatment for ADHD, but there is some evidence that it can be helpful, especially for younger children. ABA has been shown to improve symptoms in some children, but not all. And the effects don’t always last after treatment ends.

If you’re considering ABA for your child, it’s important to talk to your doctor or mental health professional about all your options and what might be best for your child’s individual needs.

ABA for ADHD in Adults

Though ABA therapy is commonly used to treat children with autism, it can also be effective for treating ADHD in adults. ABA therapy for adults with ADHD is typically conducted in one-on-one sessions with a trained ABA therapist. Treatment focuses on building skills that are difficult for the person with ADHD, such as time management and organization.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that ABA therapy was an effective treatment for adults with ADHD. The study participants who received ABA therapy showed significant improvements in symptoms, ability to function in work and social settings, and quality of life.

If you’re an adult with ADHD and you’re interested in pursuing ABA therapy, talk to your doctor or mental health professional about finding a qualified ABA therapist in your area.

ABA Therapy and Autism

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is a treatment option that has been shown to be effective for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ABA therapy is a type of behavior therapy that focuses on changing behaviors in order to improve functioning. ABA therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing problem behaviors and improving skills in children with ASD.

ABA therapy is based on the principle that all behavior is learned and that desired behaviors can be taught through positive reinforcement. ABA therapists use a variety of techniques to teach new skills and reduce problem behaviors. Through ABA therapy, children with ASD can learn to communicate, interact with others, and cope with their environment.

How to Find an ABA Therapist

To find an ABA therapist, you can start by contacting your child’s doctor or school. Some health insurance plans also have lists of providers. You can also search for providers online.

When you’re looking for a therapist, it’s important to find someone who is:
-trained in ABA
-certified by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board
-experienced in treating children with ADHD

You should also make sure that the therapist is a good fit for your child. Ask about the therapist’s experience with children who have similar symptoms to your child. You should also ask about the therapist’s approach to treatment and whether they are familiar with other treatments that may be helpful for ADHD.


As you can see, ABA therapy is a treatment option with a lot of potential for children with ADHD. It can be tailored to each child’s individual needs, and it has been shown to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms. If you think ABA therapy might be right for your child, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about getting started.

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